EU Citizens in the UK: Steps You Can Take to Protect Your Right to Remain in the UK

2 mins

Posted on 12 Jul 2016

EU, EEA and Swiss citizens in the UK (and their family members) who wish to remain in the UK should be taking steps now to protect their immigration status and insure themselves as best they can against the vagaries of the outcome of the Brexit negotiations. 

Permanent residence

Those who have lived in the UK for five years, and can evidence they have been exercising their Treaty Rights in the UK ( such as through work, studies or self-employment) may be entitled to apply for a Permanent Residence card, which is proof of the right to live in the UK permanently. Their family members may be eligible to apply for leave in line. Some individuals, for example those who have stopped work due to retirement or permanent incapacity, can apply for permanent residence before they have lived in the UK for five years. 


Once an individual has obtained their Permanent Residence card, they may be entitled to apply to naturalise for British citizenship. It may be possible to file this naturalisation application soon after receiving a Permanent Residence card provided the individual has held permanent residence status for 12 months.


Those EU citizens who are not yet eligible to apply for a Permanent Residence card may wish to apply for a Registration Certificate, confirming that they are exercising an extended right of residence. It is not mandatory to obtain this document but will make things simpler to evidence their stay in the UK. Otherwise they will need to retain evidence of exercising this right, such as keeping an accurate schedule of absences from the UK and a record of work or any other connection to the UK. They will also need to ensure that there are no periods when they are not clearly exercising this right. For example, they should consider obtaining comprehensive sickness insurance for any periods when they are not in work as a result of sickness. 

Family members should apply for a Residence Card to prove their right to live in the UK with the EU national. 

Next steps

Individuals should act now to protect their position as there is a risk that documents will be denied if applications are made after a certain (as yet unknown) date. We can assist your business with these applications. Please contact Anita de Atouguia or any member of our dedicated Business Immigration team.

The articles published on this website, current at the date of publication, are for reference purposes only. They do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific legal advice about your own circumstances should always be sought separately before taking any action.

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